One Perfect Thing: Ergon Bike Grips
Upgrading your grips is arguably the best, cheapest way to boost a bike's comfort. Don't skimp on them.
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Other than shoes and saddles, no single piece of gear has made me more comfortable on a mountain bike than Ergon grips. Yep, there are three sets here—the GS3, GS1, and GE1—and yep, they are all superb. Once you get hooked on the feel, as I did, you’ll insist on getting Ergons for everything you ride.
I’ve been using Ergons since they arrived in the U.S. a decade ago, but I didn’t become a devotee until I began racing endurance events. On my inaugural through-ride on the Kokopelli Trail, I put on my first GS3 Carbons, which mate the company’s ergonomic palm cradle to stubby carbon fiber bar ends, and I’ve never gone back. The soft platform supports the butt of the palm, alleviating much of the hand and neck pain I’d suffered on the bike through the years. And though bar ends are decidedly old-fashioned these days, the GS3’s squat, sleek shape means they are much less likely to catch on trees and brush. Anachronistic or not, they are still my top choice for long rides because of the variety of hand positions they allow. And Ergon has continued to refine the GS3s over the years, making them lighter and narrower with an even better clamping mechanism. They also offer a slightly heavier, non-carbon version for half the price.
Since the GS3s can be a bit cumbersome for daily use, these days I normally switch up to the GS1s ($35) when I’m not racing. They have the same dual-durometer rubber grips as their big brothers, with a harder inside and underside where you grasp and a softer, stickier pad under the palm. But they weight 25 percent less (160 grams per set) and don’t have the bar ends to hook shrubbery. Basically, you get the same comfort and ergonomic enhancements as the GS3s without the unwieldy heft.
Even trimmer are the GE1s ($35; 120 grams), which are perfect for technical trails and enduro-style riding. And though they look like any old tube-shaped grip, these keep Ergon’s DNA, with a side-specific design that narrows near the center and flares toward the end for a bit more support under the carpal bones. It's also made from two types of rubber: sticky and soft under the meat of the hand and harder and more durable beneath the fingers. A slight protrusion at the front forms a comfy trigger-finger feel. Switching to the GE1s from your average set of grips (especially the cheap foam variety) alleviates much of the numbness and pain common on long rides.
All three sets bolt on for security and take up about the same real estate on the bars, so it’s easy to switch between them depending on the terrain you’re riding. And given how comfortable they are, you can fully expect to buy multiple pairs of Ergons once you try them. I’ve been through dozens of sets over the years and keep multiples on hand for when I wear mine out.